Alternatives to general relativity are physical theories that attempt to describe the phenomena of gravitation in competition to Einstein's theory of general relativity.
There have been many different attempts at constructing an ideal theory of gravity. These attempts can be split into four broad categories:
This article deals only with straightforward alternatives to GR. For quantized gravity theories, see the article quantum gravity. For the unification of gravity and other forces, see the article classical unified field theories. For those theories that attempt to do several at once, see the article theory of everything.
Motivations
Motivations for developing new theories of gravity have changed over the years, with the first one to explain planetary orbits (Newton) and more complicated orbits (e.g. Lagrange). Then came unsuccessful attempts to combine gravity and either wave or corpuscular theories of gravity. The whole landscape of physics was changed with the discovery of Lorentz transformations, and this led to attempts to reconcile it with gravity. At the same time, experimental physicists started testing the foundations of gravity and relativity – Lorentz invariance, the gravitational deflection of light, the Eötvös experiment. These considerations led to and past the development of general relativity.
After that, motivations differ. Two major concerns were the development of quantum theory and the discovery of the strong and weak nuclear forces. Attempts to quantize and unify gravity are outside the scope of this article, and so far none has been completely successful.
After general relativity (GR), attempts were made either to improve on theories developed before GR, or to improve GR itself. Many different strategies were attempted, for example the addition of spin to GR, combining a GRlike metric with a spacetime that is static with respect to the expansion of the universe, getting extra freedom by adding another parameter. At least one theory was motivated by the desire to develop an alternative to GR that is completely free from singularities.
Experimental tests improved along with the theories. Many of the different strategies that were developed soon after GR were abandoned, and there was a push to develop more general forms of the theories that survived, so that a theory would be ready the moment any test showed a disagreement with GR.
By the 1980s, the increasing accuracy of experimental tests had all led to confirmation of GR, no competitors were left except for those that included GR as a special case. Further, shortly after that, theorists switched to string theory which was starting to look promising, but has since lost popularity. In the mid1980s a few experiments were suggesting that gravity was being modified by the addition of a fifth force (or, in one case, of a fifth, sixth and seventh force) acting on the scale of meters. Subsequent experiments eliminated these.
Motivations for the more recent alternative theories are almost all cosmological, associated with or replacing such constructs as "inflation", "dark matter" and "dark energy". Investigation of the Pioneer anomaly has caused renewed public interest in alternatives to General Relativity.
Notation in this article
$c\backslash ;$ is the speed of light, $G\backslash ;$ is the gravitational constant. "Geometric variables" are not used.
Latin indexes go from 1 to 3, Greek indexes go from 1 to 4. The Einstein summation convention is used.
$\backslash eta\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$ is the Minkowski metric. $g\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$ is a tensor, usually the metric tensor. These have signature (−,+,+,+).
Partial differentiation is written $\backslash partial\_\backslash mu\; \backslash phi\backslash ;$ or $\backslash phi\_\{,\backslash mu\}\backslash ;$. Covariant differentiation is written $\backslash nabla\_\backslash mu\; \backslash phi\backslash ;$ or $\backslash phi\_\{;\backslash mu\}\backslash ;$.
Classification of theories
Theories of gravity can be classified, loosely, into several categories. Most of the theories described here have:
If a theory has a Lagrangian density for gravity, say $L\backslash ,$, then the gravitational part of the action $S\backslash ,$ is the integral of that.
 $S\; =\; \backslash int\; L\; \backslash sqrt\{g\}\; \backslash ,\; \backslash mathrm\{d\}^4x$
In this equation it is usual, though not essential, to have $g\; =\; 1\backslash ,$ at spatial infinity when using Cartesian coordinates. For example the Einstein–Hilbert action uses
 $L\backslash ,\backslash propto\backslash ,\; R$
where R is the scalar curvature, a measure of the curvature of space.
Almost every theory described in this article has an action. It is the only known way to guarantee that the necessary conservation laws of energy, momentum and angular momentum are incorporated automatically; although it is easy to construct an action where those conservation laws are violated. The original 1983 version of MOND did not have an action.
A few theories have an action but not a Lagrangian density. A good example is Whitehead (1922), the action there is termed nonlocal.
A theory of gravity is a "metric theory" if and only if it can be given a mathematical representation in which two conditions hold:
Condition 1: There exists a symmetric metric tensor $g\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ,$ of signature (−, +, +, +), which governs properlength and propertime measurements in the usual manner of special and general relativity:
 $\{d\backslash tau\}^2\; =\; \; g\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; \backslash ,\; dx^\backslash mu\; \backslash ,\; dx^\backslash nu\; \backslash ,$
where there is a summation over indices $\backslash mu$ and $\backslash nu$.
Condition 2: Stressed matter and fields being acted upon by gravity respond in accordance with the equation:
 $0\; =\; \backslash nabla\_\backslash nu\; T^\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; =\; \{T^\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\}\_\{,\backslash nu\}\; +\; \backslash Gamma^\{\backslash mu\}\_\{\backslash sigma\; \backslash nu\}\; T^\{\backslash sigma\; \backslash nu\}\; +\; \backslash Gamma^\{\backslash nu\}\_\{\backslash sigma\; \backslash nu\}\; T^\{\backslash mu\; \backslash sigma\}\; \backslash ,$
where $T^\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; \backslash ,$ is the stress–energy tensor for all matter and nongravitational fields, and where $\backslash nabla\_\{\backslash nu\}$ is the covariant derivative with respect to the metric and $\backslash Gamma^\{\backslash alpha\}\_\{\backslash sigma\; \backslash nu\}\; \backslash ,$ is the Christoffel symbol. The stressenergy tensor should also satisfy an energy condition.
Metric theories include (from simplest to most complex):
(see section Modern theories below)
Nonmetric theories include
A word here about Mach's principle is appropriate because a few of these theories rely on Mach's principle (e.g. Whitehead (1922)), and many mention it in passing (e.g. Einstein–Grossmann (1913), Brans–Dicke (1961)). Mach's principle can be thought of a halfwayhouse between Newton and Einstein. It goes this way:^{[1]}
 Newton: Absolute space and time.
 Mach: The reference frame comes from the distribution of matter in the universe.
 Einstein: There is no reference frame.
So far, all the experimental evidence points to Mach's principle being wrong, but it has not entirely been ruled out.
Early theories, 1686 to 1916
 Newton (1686)
In Newton's (1686) theory (rewritten using more modern mathematics) the density of mass $\backslash rho\backslash ,$ generates a scalar field, the gravitational potential $\backslash phi\backslash ,$ in joules per kilogram, by
 $\{\backslash partial^2\; \backslash phi\; \backslash over\; \backslash partial\; x^j\; \backslash partial\; x^j\}\; =\; 4\; \backslash pi\; G\; \backslash rho\; \backslash ,.$
Using the Nabla operator $\backslash nabla$ for the gradient and divergence (partial derivatives), this can be conveniently written as:
 $\backslash nabla^2\; \backslash phi\; =\; 4\; \backslash pi\; G\; \backslash rho\; \backslash ,.$
This scalar field governs the motion of a freefalling particle by:
 $\{\; d^2x^j\backslash over\; dt^2\}\; =\; \{\backslash partial\backslash phi\backslash over\backslash partial\; x^j\backslash ,\}.$
At distance, r, from an isolated mass, M, the scalar field is
 $\backslash phi\; =\; GM/r\; \backslash ,.$
The theory of Newton, and Lagrange's improvement on the calculation (applying the variational principle), completely fails to take into account relativistic effects of course, and so can be rejected as a viable theory of gravity. Even so, Newton's theory is thought to be exactly correct in the limit of weak gravitational fields and low speeds and all other theories of gravity need to reproduce Newton's theory in the appropriate limits.
 Mechanical explanations (1650–1900)
To explain Newton's theory, some mechanical explanations of gravitation (incl. Le Sage's theory) were created between 1650 and 1900, but they were overthrown because most of them lead to an unacceptable amount of drag, which is not observed. Other models are violating the energy conservation law and are incompatible with modern thermodynamics.
 Electrostatic models (1870–1900)
At the end of the 19th century, many tried to combine Newton's force law with the established laws of electrodynamics, like those of Weber, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Bernhard Riemann and James Clerk Maxwell. Those models were used to explain the perihelion advance of Mercury. In 1890, Lévy succeeded in doing so by combining the laws of Weber and Riemann, whereby the speed of gravity is equal to the speed of light in his theory. And in another attempt, Paul Gerber (1898) even succeeded in deriving the correct formula for the Perihelion shift (which was identical to that formula later used by Einstein). However, because the basic laws of Weber and others were wrong (for example, Weber's law was superseded by Maxwell's theory), those hypothesis were rejected.^{[2]} In 1900, Hendrik Lorentz tried to explain gravity on the basis of his Lorentz ether theory and the Maxwell equations. He assumed, like Ottaviano Fabrizio Mossotti and Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner, that the attraction of opposite charged particles is stronger than the repulsion of equal charged particles. The resulting net force is exactly what is known as universal gravitation, in which the speed of gravity is that of light. But Lorentz calculated that the value for the perihelion advance of Mercury was much too low.^{[3]}
 Lorentzinvariant models (1905–1910)
Based on the principle of relativity, Henri Poincaré (1905, 1906), Hermann Minkowski (1908), and Arnold Sommerfeld (1910) tried to modify Newton's theory and to establish a Lorentz invariant gravitational law, in which the speed of gravity is that of light. However, like in Lorentz's model the value for the perihelion advance of Mercury was much too low.^{[4]}
 Einstein (1908, 1912)
Einstein's two part publication in 1912 (and before in 1908) is really only important for historical reasons. By then he knew of the gravitational redshift and the deflection of light. He had realized that Lorentz transformations are not generally applicable, but retained them. The theory states that the speed of light is constant in free space but varies in the presence of matter. The theory was only expected to hold when the source of the gravitational field is stationary. It includes the principle of least action:
 $\backslash delta\; \backslash int\; d\backslash tau\; =\; 0\backslash ,$
 $\{d\backslash tau\}^2\; =\; \; \backslash eta\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; dx^\backslash mu\; dx^\backslash nu\; \backslash ,$
where $\backslash eta\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; \backslash ,$ is the Minkowski metric, and there is a summation from 1 to 4 over indices $\backslash mu\; \backslash ,$ and $\backslash nu\; \backslash ,$.
Einstein and Grossmann (1913) includes Riemannian geometry and tensor calculus.
 $\backslash delta\; \backslash int\; d\backslash tau\; =\; 0\; \backslash ,$
 $\{d\backslash tau\}^2\; =\; \; g\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; dx^\backslash mu\; dx^\backslash nu\; \backslash ,$
The equations of electrodynamics exactly match those of GR. The equation
 $T^\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; =\; \backslash rho\; \{dx^\backslash mu\; \backslash over\; d\backslash tau\}\; \{dx^\backslash nu\; \backslash over\; d\backslash tau\}\; \backslash ,$
is not in GR. It expresses the stressenergy tensor as a function of the matter density.
 Abraham (1912)
While this was going on, Abraham was developing an alternative model of gravity in which the speed of light depends on the gravitational field strength and so is variable almost everywhere. Abraham's 1914 review of gravitation models is said to be excellent, but his own model was poor.
 Nordström (1912)
The first approach of Nordström (1912) was to retain the Minkowski metric and a constant value of $c\backslash ,$ but to let mass depend on the gravitational field strength $\backslash phi\backslash ,$. Allowing this field strength to satisfy
 $\backslash Box\; \backslash phi\; =\; \backslash rho\; \backslash ,$
where $\backslash rho\; \backslash ,$ is rest mass energy and $\backslash Box\; \backslash ,$ is the d'Alembertian,
 $m\; =\; m\_0\; \backslash exp(\backslash phi\; /\; c^2)\; \backslash ,$
and
 $\; \{\backslash partial\; \backslash phi\; \backslash over\; \backslash partial\; x^\backslash mu\}\; =\; \backslash dot\{u\}\_\backslash mu\; +\; \{u\_\backslash mu\; \backslash over\; c^2\; \backslash dot\{\backslash phi\}\}\; \backslash ,$
where $u\; \backslash ,$ is the fourvelocity and the dot is a differential with respect to time.
The second approach of Nordström (1913) is remembered as the first logically consistent relativistic field theory of gravitation ever formulated. From (note, notation of Pais (1982) not Nordström):
 $\backslash delta\; \backslash int\; \backslash psi\; d\backslash tau\; =\; 0\; \backslash ,$
 $\{d\backslash tau\}^2\; =\; \; \backslash eta\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; dx^\backslash mu\; dx^\backslash nu\; \backslash ,$
where $\backslash psi\; \backslash ,$ is a scalar field,
 $\; \{\backslash partial\; T^\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; \backslash over\; \backslash partial\; x^\backslash nu\}\; =\; T\; \{1\; \backslash over\; \backslash psi\}\; \{\backslash partial\; \backslash psi\; \backslash over\; \backslash partial\; x\_\backslash mu\}\; \backslash ,$
This theory is Lorentz invariant, satisfies the conservation laws, correctly reduces to the Newtonian limit and satisfies the weak equivalence principle.
 Einstein and Fokker (1914)
This theory is Einstein's first treatment of gravitation in which general covariance is strictly obeyed. Writing:
 $\backslash delta\; \backslash int\; ds\; =\; 0\; \backslash ,$
 $\{ds\}^2\; =\; g\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; dx^\backslash mu\; dx^\backslash nu\; \backslash ,$
 $g\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; =\; \backslash psi^2\; \backslash eta\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; \backslash ,$
they relate EinsteinGrossmann (1913) to Nordström (1913). They also state:
 $T\; \backslash ,\; \backslash propto\; \backslash ,\; R\; \backslash ,.$
That is, the trace of the stress energy tensor is proportional to the curvature of space.
 Einstein (1916, 1917)
This theory is what we now know of as General Relativity. Discarding the Minkowski metric entirely, Einstein gets:
 $\backslash delta\; \backslash int\; ds\; =\; 0\; \backslash ,$
 $\{ds\}^2\; =\; g\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; dx^\backslash mu\; dx^\backslash nu\; \backslash ,$
 $R\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\; =\; \backslash frac\{8\; \backslash pi\; G\}\{c^4\}\; \backslash left(\; T\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; \; \backslash frac\; \{1\}\{2\}\; g\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}T\; \backslash right)\; \backslash ,$
which can also be written
 $T^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\; =\; \{c^4\; \backslash over\; 8\; \backslash pi\; G\}\; \backslash left(\; R^\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\backslash frac\; \{1\}\{2\}\; g^\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; R\; \backslash right)\; \backslash ,.$
Five days before Einstein presented the last equation above, Hilbert had submitted a paper containing an almost identical equation. See relativity priority dispute. Hilbert was the first to correctly state the EinsteinHilbert action for GR, which is:
 $S\; =\; \{c^4\; \backslash over\; 16\; \backslash pi\; G\}\; \backslash int\; R\; \backslash sqrt\{g\}\; d^4\; x\; +\; S\_m\; \backslash ,$
where $G\; \backslash ,$ is Newton's gravitational constant, $R\; =\; R\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash mu\}\; \backslash ,$ is the Ricci curvature of space, $g\; =\; \backslash det\; (\; g\_\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}\; )\; \backslash ,$ and $S\_m\; \backslash ,$ is the action due to mass.
GR is a tensor theory, the equations all contain tensors. Nordström's theories, on the other hand, are scalar theories because the gravitational field is a scalar. Later in this article you will see scalartensor theories that contain a scalar field in addition to the tensors of GR, and other variants containing vector fields as well have been developed recently.
Theories from 1917 to the 1980s
This section includes alternatives to GR published after GR but before the observations of galaxy rotation that led to the hypothesis of "dark matter".
Those considered here include (see Will (1981),^{[5]} Lang (2002)^{[6]}):
Listed by date (the hyperlinks take you further down this article)
Whitehead (1922), Cartan (1922, 1923), Fierz & Pauli (1939), Birkhov (1943), Milne (1948), Thiry (1948), Papapetrou (1954a, 1954b), Littlewood (1953), Jordan (1955), Bergman (1956), Belinfante & Swihart (1957), Yilmaz (1958, 1973), Brans & Dicke (1961), Whitrow & Morduch (1960, 1965), Kustaanheimo (1966), Kustaanheimo & Nuotio (1967), Deser & Laurent (1968), Page & Tupper (1968), Bergmann (1968), BolliniGiambiagiTiomno (1970), Nordtveldt (1970), Wagoner (1970), Rosen (1971, 1975, 1975), WeiTou Ni (1972, 1973), Will & Nordtveldt (1972), Hellings & Nordtveldt (1973), Lightman & Lee (1973), Lee, Lightman & Ni (1974), Bekenstein (1977), Barker (1978), Rastall (1979)
These theories are presented here without a cosmological constant or added scalar or vector potential unless specifically noted, for the simple reason that the need for one or both of these was not recognised before the supernova observations by the Supernova Cosmology Project and HighZ Supernova Search Team. How to add a cosmological constant or quintessence to a theory is discussed under Modern Theories (see also here).
Scalar field theories
The scalar field theories of Nordström (1912, 1913) have already been discussed. Those of Littlewood (1953), Bergman (1956), Yilmaz (1958), Whitrow and Morduch (1960, 1965) and Page and Tupper (1968) follow the general formula give by Page and Tupper.
According to Page and Tupper (1968), who discuss all these except Nordström (1913), the general scalar field theory comes from the principle of least action:
$\backslash delta\backslash int\; f(\backslash phi/c^2)ds=0\backslash ,$
where the scalar field is,
$\backslash phi=GM/r\backslash ,$
and $c\backslash ,$ may or may not depend on $\backslash phi\backslash ,$.
In Nordström (1912),
 $f(\backslash phi/c^2)=\backslash exp(\backslash phi/c^2)\backslash ,$ ; $c=c\_\backslash infty\backslash ,$
In Littlewood (1953) and Bergmann (1956),
 $f(\backslash phi/c^2)=\backslash exp(\backslash phi/c^2(\backslash phi/c^2)^2/2)\backslash ,$ ; $c=c\_\backslash infty\backslash ,$
In Whitrow and Morduch (1960),
 $f(\backslash phi/c^2)=1\backslash ,$ ; $c^2=c\_\backslash infty^22\backslash phi\backslash ,$
In Whitrow and Morduch (1965),
 $f(\backslash phi/c^2)=\backslash exp(\backslash phi/c^2)\backslash ,$ ; $c^2=c\_\backslash infty^22\backslash phi\backslash ,$
In Page and Tupper (1968),
 $f(\backslash phi/c^2)=\backslash phi/c^2+\backslash alpha(\backslash phi/c^2)^2\backslash ,$ ; $c\_\backslash infty^2/c^2=1+4(\backslash phi/c\_\backslash infty^2)+(15+2\backslash alpha)(\backslash phi/c\_\backslash infty^2)^2\backslash ,$
Page and Tupper (1968) matches Yilmaz (1958) (see also Yilmaz theory of gravitation) to second order when $\backslash alpha=7/2\backslash ,$.
The gravitational deflection of light has to be zero when c is constant. Given that variable c and zero deflection of light are both in conflict with experiment, the prospect for a successful scalar theory of gravity looks very unlikely. Further, if the parameters of a scalar theory are adjusted so that the deflection of light is correct then the gravitational redshift is likely to be wrong.
Ni (1972) summarised some theories and also created two more. In the first, a preexisting special relativity spacetime and universal time coordinate acts with matter and nongravitational fields to generate a scalar field. This scalar field acts together with all the rest to generate the metric.
The action is:
 $S=\{1\backslash over\; 16\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash int\; d^4\; x\; \backslash sqrt\{g\}L\_\backslash phi+S\_m\backslash ,$
 $L\_\backslash phi=\backslash phi\; R2g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash partial\_\backslash mu\backslash phi\backslash partial\_\backslash nu\backslash phi\backslash ,$
Misner et al. (1973) gives this without the $\backslash phi\; R\backslash ,$ term. $S\_m\backslash ,$ is the matter action.
 $\backslash Box\backslash phi=4\backslash pi\; T^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}[\backslash eta\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}e^\{2\backslash phi\}+(e^\{2\backslash phi\}+e^\{2\backslash phi\})\backslash partial\_\backslash mu\; t\backslash partial\_\backslash nu\; t]\backslash ,$
$t\backslash ,$ is the universal time coordinate.
This theory is selfconsistent and complete. But the motion of the solar system through the universe leads to serious disagreement with experiment.
In the second theory of Ni (1972) there are two arbitrary functions $f(\backslash phi)\backslash ,$ and $k(\backslash phi)\backslash ,$ that are related to the metric by:
 $ds^2=e^\{2f(\backslash phi)\}dt^2e^\{2f(\backslash phi)\}[dx^2+dy^2+dz^2]\backslash ,$
 $\backslash eta^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash partial\_\backslash mu\backslash partial\_\backslash nu\backslash phi=4\backslash pi\backslash rho^*k(\backslash phi)\backslash ,$
Ni (1972) quotes Rosen (1971) as having two scalar fields $\backslash phi\backslash ,$ and $\backslash psi\backslash ,$ that are related to the metric by:
 $ds^2=\backslash phi^2dt^2\backslash psi^2[dx^2+dy^2+dz^2]\backslash ,$
In Papapetrou (1954a) the gravitational part of the Lagrangian is:
 $L\_\backslash phi=e^\backslash phi(\backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{1\}\{2\}e^\{\backslash phi\}\backslash partial\_\backslash alpha\backslash phi\backslash partial\_\backslash alpha\backslash phi\; +\backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{3\}\{2\}e^\{\backslash phi\}\backslash partial\_0\backslash phi\backslash partial\_0\backslash phi)\backslash ,$
In Papapetrou (1954b) there is a second scalar field $\backslash chi\backslash ,$. The gravitational part of the Lagrangian is now:
 $L\_\backslash phi=e^\{(3\backslash phi+\backslash chi)/2\}(\backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{1\}\{2\}\; e^\{\backslash phi\}\backslash partial\_\backslash alpha\; \backslash phi\; \backslash partial\_\backslash alpha\; \backslash phi\; e^\{\backslash phi\}\backslash partial\_\backslash alpha\backslash phi\backslash partial\_\backslash chi\backslash phi\; +\; \backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{3\}\{2\}\; e^\{\backslash chi\}\; \backslash partial\_0\; \backslash phi\backslash partial\_0\backslash phi)\backslash ,$
Bimetric theories
Bimetric theories contain both the normal tensor metric and the Minkowski metric (or a metric of constant curvature), and may contain other scalar or vector fields.
Rosen (1973, 1975) Bimetric Theory
The action is:
 $S=\{1\backslash over\; 64\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash int\; d^4\; x\backslash sqrt\{\backslash eta\}\backslash eta^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}g^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}g^\{\backslash gamma\backslash delta\}\; (g\_\{\backslash alpha\backslash gamma\; \backslash mu\}g\_\{\backslash alpha\backslash delta\; \backslash nu\}\; \backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{1\}\{2\}g\_\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\; \backslash mu\}g\_\{\backslash gamma\backslash delta\; \backslash nu\})+S\_m$
where the vertical line "" denotes covariant derivative with respect to $\backslash eta\backslash ,$. The field equations may be written in the form:
 $\backslash Box\_\backslash eta\; g\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}g^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}\backslash eta^\{\backslash gamma\backslash delta\}g\_\{\backslash mu\backslash alpha\; \backslash gamma\}g\_\{\backslash nu\backslash beta\; \backslash delta\}=16\backslash pi\; G\backslash sqrt\{g/\backslash eta\}(T\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{1\}\{2\}g\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\; T)\backslash ,$
LightmanLee (1973) developed a metric theory based on the nonmetric theory of Belinfante and Swihart (1957a, 1957b). The result is known as BSLL theory. Given a tensor field $B\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ,$, $B=B\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash eta^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ,$, and two constants $a\backslash ,$ and $f\backslash ,$ the action is:
 $S=\{1\backslash over\; 16\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash int\; d^4\; x\backslash sqrt\{\backslash eta\}(aB^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\backslash alpha\}B\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\backslash alpha\}\; +fB\_\{,\backslash alpha\}B^\{,\backslash alpha\})+S\_m$
and the stressenergy tensor comes from:
 $a\backslash Box\_\backslash eta\; B^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}+f\backslash eta^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash Box\_\backslash eta\; B=4\backslash pi\; G\backslash sqrt\{g/\backslash eta\}T^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}\; (\backslash partial\; g\_\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}/\backslash partial\; B\_\backslash mu\backslash nu)$
In Rastall (1979), the metric is an algebraic function of the Minkowski metric and a Vector field.^{[5]} The Action is:
 $S=\{1\backslash over\; 16\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash int\; d^4\; x\; \backslash sqrt\{g\}\; F(N)K^\{\backslash mu;\backslash nu\}K\_\{\backslash mu;\backslash nu\}+S\_m$
where
 $F(N)=N/(2+N)\backslash ;$ and $N=g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}K\_\backslash mu\; K\_\backslash nu\backslash ;$
(see Will (1981) for the field equation for $T^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$ and $K\_\backslash mu\backslash ;$).
Quasilinear theories
In Whitehead (1922), the physical metric $g\backslash ;$ is constructed (by Synge) algebraically from the Minkowski metric $\backslash eta\backslash ;$ and matter variables, so it doesn't even have a scalar field. The construction is:
 $g\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}(x^\backslash alpha)=\backslash eta\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}2\backslash int\_\{\backslash Sigma^\}\{y\_\backslash mu^\; y\_\backslash nu^\backslash over(w^)^3\}\; [\backslash sqrt\{g\}\backslash rho\; u^\backslash alpha\; d\backslash Sigma\_\backslash alpha]^$
where the superscript () indicates quantities evaluated along the past $\backslash eta\backslash ;$ light cone of the field point $x^\backslash alpha\backslash ;$ and
 $(y^\backslash mu)^=x^\backslash mu(x^\backslash mu)^\backslash ;$ , $(y^\backslash mu)^(y\_\backslash mu)^=0,\backslash ;$
 $w^=(y^\backslash mu)^(u\_\backslash mu)^\backslash ;$ , $(u\_\backslash mu)=dx^\backslash mu/d\backslash sigma,\backslash ;$
 $d\backslash sigma^2=\backslash eta\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}dx^\backslash mu\; dx^\backslash nu\backslash ;$
Nevertheless the metric construction (from a nonmetric theory) using the “length contraction” ansatz^{[7]} is criticised.^{[8]}
Deser and Laurent (1968) and BolliniGiambiagiTiomno (1970) are Linear Fixed Gauge (LFG) theories. Taking an approach from quantum field theory, combine a Minkowski spacetime with the gauge invariant action of a spintwo tensor field (i.e. graviton) $h\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$ to define
 $g\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\; =\; \backslash eta\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}+h\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$
The action is:
 $S=\{1\backslash over\; 16\backslash pi\; G\}\; \backslash int\; d^4\; x\backslash sqrt\{\backslash eta\}[2h\_\{\backslash nu\}^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}h\_\{\backslash mu\backslash lambda\}^\{\backslash lambda\}\; 2h\_\{\backslash nu\}^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}h\_\{\backslash lambda\backslash mu\}^\{\backslash lambda\}+h\_\{\backslash nu\backslash mu\}^\backslash nu\; h\_\backslash lambda^\{\backslash lambda\backslash mu\}\; h^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\backslash lambda\}h\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\backslash lambda\}]+S\_m\backslash ;$
The Bianchi identity associated with this partial gauge invariance is wrong. LFG theories seek to remedy this by breaking the gauge invariance of the gravitational action through the introduction of auxiliary gravitational fields that couple to $h\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$.
A cosmological constant can be introduced into a quasilinear theory by the simple expedient of changing the Minkowski background to a de Sitter or antide Sitter spacetime, as suggested by G. Temple in 1923. Temple's suggestions on how to do this were criticized by C. B. Rayner in 1955.^{[9]}
Tensor theories
Einstein's general relativity is the simplest plausible theory of gravity that can be based on just one symmetric tensor field (the metric tensor). Others include: Gauss–Bonnet gravity, f(R) gravity, and Lovelock theory of gravity.
Scalartensor theories
These all contain at least one free parameter, as opposed to GR which has no free parameters.
Although not normally considered a ScalarTensor theory of gravity, the 5 by 5 metric of KaluzaKlein reduces to a 4 by 4 metric and a single scalar. So if the 5th element is treated as a scalar gravitational field instead of an electromagnetic field then KaluzaKlein can be considered the progenitor of ScalarTensor theories of gravity. This was recognised by Thiry (1948).
ScalarTensor theories include Thiry (1948), Jordan (1955), Brans and Dicke (1961), Bergman (1968), Nordtveldt (1970), Wagoner (1970), Bekenstein (1977) and Barker (1978).
The action $S\backslash ;$ is based on the integral of the Lagrangian $L\_\backslash phi\backslash ;$.
 $S=\{1\backslash over\; 16\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash int\; d^4\; x\backslash sqrt\{g\}L\_\backslash phi+S\_m\backslash ;$
$L\_\backslash phi=\backslash phi\; R\{\backslash omega(\backslash phi)\backslash over\backslash phi\}\; g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash partial\_\backslash mu\backslash phi\backslash partial\_\backslash nu\backslash phi+2\backslash phi\backslash lambda(\backslash phi)\backslash ;$
 $S\_m=\backslash int\; d^4\; x\backslash sqrt\{g\}G\_N\; L\_m\backslash ;$
 $T^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash \; \backslash stackrel\{\backslash mathrm\{def\}\}\{=\}\backslash \; \{2\backslash over\backslash sqrt\{g\}\}\{\backslash delta\; S\_m\backslash over\backslash delta\; g\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\}$
where $\backslash omega(\backslash phi)\backslash ;$ is a different dimensionless function for each different scalartensor theory. The function $\backslash lambda(\backslash phi)\backslash ;$ plays the same role as the cosmological constant in GR. $G\_N\backslash ;$ is a dimensionless normalization constant that fixes the presentday value of $G\backslash ;$. An arbitrary potential can be added for the scalar.
The full version is retained in Bergman (1968) and Wagoner (1970). Special cases are:
Nordtvedt (1970), $\backslash lambda=0\backslash ;$
Since $\backslash lambda$ was thought to be zero at the time anyway, this would not have been considered a significant difference. The role of the cosmological constant in more modern work is discussed under Cosmological constant.
BransDicke (1961), $\backslash omega\backslash ;$ is constant
Bekenstein (1977) Variable Mass Theory
Starting with parameters $r\backslash ;$ and $q\backslash ;$, found from a cosmological solution,
$\backslash phi=[1qf(\backslash phi)]f(\backslash phi)^\{r\}\backslash ;$ determines function $f\backslash ;$ then
 $\backslash omega(\backslash phi)=\backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{3\}\{2\}\backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{1\}\{4\}f(\backslash phi)[(16q)qf(\backslash phi)1]\; [r+(1r)qf(\backslash phi)]^\{2\}\backslash ;$
Barker (1978) Constant G Theory
 $\backslash omega(\backslash phi)=(43\backslash phi)/(2\backslash phi2)\backslash ;$
Adjustment of $\backslash omega(\backslash phi)\backslash ;$ allows Scalar Tensor Theories to tend to GR in the limit of $\backslash omega\backslash rightarrow\backslash infty\backslash ;$ in the current epoch. However, there could be significant differences from GR in the early universe.
So long as GR is confirmed by experiment, general ScalarTensor theories (including BransDicke) can never be ruled out entirely, but as experiments continue to confirm GR more precisely and the parameters have to be finetuned so that the predictions more closely match those of GR.
Vectortensor theories
Before we start, Will (2001) has said: "Many alternative metric theories developed during the 1970s and 1980s could be viewed as "strawman" theories, invented to prove that such theories exist or to illustrate particular properties. Few of these could be regarded as wellmotivated theories from the point of view, say, of field theory or particle physics. Examples are the vectortensor theories studied by Will, Nordtvedt and Hellings."
Hellings and Nordtvedt (1973) and Will and Nordtvedt (1972) are both vectortensor theories. In addition to the metric tensor there is a timelike vector field $K\_\backslash mu\backslash ;$.
The gravitational action is:
 $S=\{1\backslash over\; 16\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash int\; d^4\; x\backslash sqrt\{g\}[R+\backslash omega\; K\_\backslash mu\; K^\backslash mu\; R+\backslash eta\; K^\backslash mu\; K^\backslash nu\; R\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash epsilon\; F\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}F^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}+\backslash tau\; K\_\{\backslash mu;\backslash nu\}K^\{\backslash mu;\backslash nu\}]+S\_m\backslash ;$
where $\backslash omega\backslash ;$, $\backslash eta\backslash ;$, $\backslash epsilon\backslash ;$ and $\backslash tau\backslash ;$ are constants and
 $F\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}=K\_\{\backslash nu;\backslash mu\}K\_\{\backslash mu;\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$
See Will (1981) for the field equations for $T^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$ and $K\_\backslash mu\backslash ;$.
Will and Nordtvedt (1972) is a special case where
 $\backslash omega=\backslash eta=\backslash epsilon=0\backslash ;$ ; $\backslash tau=1\backslash ;$
Hellings and Nordtvedt (1973) is a special case where
 $\backslash tau=0\backslash ;$ ; $\backslash epsilon=1\backslash ;$ ; $\backslash eta=2\backslash omega\backslash ;$
These vectortensor theories are semiconservative, which means that they satisfy the laws of conservation of momentum and angular momentum but can have preferred frame effects. When $\backslash omega=\backslash eta=\backslash epsilon=\backslash tau=0\backslash ;$ they reduce to GR so, so long as GR is confirmed by experiment, general vectortensor theories can never be ruled out.
Other metric theories
Others metric theories have been proposed; that of Bekenstein (2004) is discussed under Modern Theories.
Nonmetric theories
Cartan's theory is particularly interesting both because it is a nonmetric theory and because it is so old. The status of Cartan's theory is uncertain. Will (1981) claims that all nonmetric theories are eliminated by Einstein's Equivalence Principle (EEP). Will (2001) tempers that by explaining experimental criteria for testing nonmetric theories against EEP. Misner et al. (1973) claims that Cartan's theory is the only nonmetric theory to survive all experimental tests up to that date and Turyshev (2006) lists Cartan's theory among the few that have survived all experimental tests up to that date. The following is a quick sketch of Cartan's theory as restated by Trautman (1972).
Cartan (1922, 1923) suggested a simple generalization of Einstein's theory of gravitation. He proposed a model of space time with a metric tensor and a linear "connection" compatible with the metric but not necessarily symmetric. The torsion tensor of the connection is related to the density of intrinsic angular momentum. Independently of Cartan, similar ideas were put forward by Sciama, by Kibble in the years 1958 to 1966, culminating in a 1976 review by Hehl et al.
The original description is in terms of differential forms, but for the present article that is replaced by the more familiar language of tensors (risking loss of accuracy). As in GR, the Lagrangian is made up of a massless and a mass part. The Lagrangian for the massless part is:
 $L=\{1\backslash over\; 32\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash Omega\_\backslash nu^\backslash mu\; g^\{\backslash nu\backslash xi\}x^\backslash eta\; x^\backslash zeta\backslash eta\_\{\backslash xi\backslash mu\backslash eta\backslash zeta\}\backslash ;$
 $\backslash Omega\_\backslash nu^\backslash mu=d\; \backslash omega^\backslash mu\_\backslash nu+\backslash omega^\backslash eta\_\backslash xi\backslash ;$
 $\backslash nabla\; x^\backslash mu=\backslash omega^\backslash mu\_\backslash nu\; x^\backslash nu\backslash ;$
The $\backslash omega^\backslash mu\_\backslash nu\backslash ;$ is the linear connection. $\backslash eta\_\{\backslash xi\backslash mu\backslash eta\backslash zeta\}\backslash ;$ is the completely antisymmetric pseudotensor (LeviCivita symbol) with $\backslash eta\_\{1234\}=\backslash sqrt\{g\}\backslash ;$, and $g^\{\backslash nu\backslash xi\}\backslash ,$ is the metric tensor as usual. By assuming that the linear connection is metric, it is possible to remove the unwanted freedom inherent in the nonmetric theory. The stressenergy tensor is calculated from:
 $T^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}=\{1\backslash over\; 16\backslash pi\; G\}\; (g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash eta^\backslash xi\_\backslash etag^\{\backslash xi\backslash nu\}\backslash eta^\backslash nu\_\backslash etag^\{\backslash xi\backslash nu\}\backslash eta^\backslash mu\_\backslash eta)\backslash Omega^\backslash eta\_\backslash xi\backslash ;$
The space curvature is not Riemannian, but on a Riemannian spacetime the Lagrangian would reduce to the Lagrangian of GR.
Some equations of the nonmetric theory of Belinfante and Swihart (1957a, 1957b) have already been discussed in the section on bimetric theories.
A distinctively nonmetric theory is given by gauge theory gravity, which replaces the metric in its field equations with a pair of gauge fields in flat spacetime. On the one hand, the theory is quite conservative because it is substantially equivalent to EinsteinCartan theory (or general relativity in the limit of vanishing spin), differing mostly in the nature of its global solutions. On the other hand, it is radical because it replaces differential geometry with geometric algebra.
Testing of alternatives to general relativity
Any putative alternative to general relativity would need to meet a variety of tests for it to become accepted. For indepth coverage of these tests, see Misner et al. (1973) Ch.39, Will (1981) Table 2.1, and Ni (1972). Most such tests can be categorized as in the following subsections.
Selfconsistency
Selfconsistency among nonmetric theories includes eliminating theories allowing tachyons, ghost poles and higher order poles, and those that have problems with behaviour at infinity.
Among metric theories, selfconsistency is best illustrated by describing several theories that fail this test. The classic example is the spintwo field theory of Fierz and Pauli (1939); the field equations imply that gravitating bodies move in straight lines, whereas the equations of motion insist that gravity deflects bodies away from straight line motion. Yilmaz (1971, 1973) contains a tensor gravitational field used to construct a metric; it is mathematically inconsistent because the functional dependence of the metric on the tensor field is not well defined.
Completeness
To be complete, a theory of gravity must be capable of analysing the outcome of every experiment of interest. It must therefore mesh with electromagnetism and all other physics. For instance, any theory that cannot predict from first principles the movement of planets or the behaviour of atomic clocks is incomplete.
Many early theories are incomplete in that it is unclear whether the density $\backslash rho$ used by the theory should be calculated from the stressenergy tensor $T$ as $\backslash rho=T\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}u^\backslash mu\; u^\backslash nu$ or as $\backslash rho=T\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash delta^\{\backslash mu\; \backslash nu\}$, where $u$ is the fourvelocity, and $\backslash delta$ is the Kronecker delta.
The theories of Thirry (1948) and Jordan (1955) are incomplete unless Jordan's parameter $\backslash eta\backslash ;$ is set to 1, in which case they match the theory of BransDicke (1961) and so are worthy of further consideration.
Milne (1948) is incomplete because it makes no gravitational redshift prediction.
The theories of Whitrow and Morduch (1960, 1965), Kustaanheimo (1966) and Kustaanheimo and Nuotio (1967) are either incomplete or inconsistent. The incorporation of Maxwell's equations is incomplete unless it is assumed that they are imposed on the flat background spacetime, and when that is done they are inconsistent, because they predict zero gravitational redshift when the wave version of light (Maxwell theory) is used, and nonzero redshift when the particle version (photon) is used. Another more obvious example is Newtonian gravity with Maxwell's equations; light as photons is deflected by gravitational fields (by twice that of GR) but light as waves is not.
Classical tests
There are three "classical" tests (dating back to the 1910s or earlier) of the ability of gravity theories to handle relativistic effects; they are:
Each theory should reproduce the observed results in these areas, which have to date always aligned with the predictions of general relativity.
In 1964, Irwin I. Shapiro found a fourth test, called the Shapiro delay. It is usually regarded as a "classical" test as well.
Agreement with Newtonian mechanics and special relativity
As an example of disagreement with Newtonian experiments, Birkhoff (1943) theory predicts relativistic effects fairly reliably but demands that sound waves travel at the speed of light, which disagrees violently with experiment.
A modern example of the lack of a relativistic component is MOND by Milgrom, as will be discussed below.
The Einstein equivalence principle (EEP)
The EEP has three components.
The first is the uniqueness of free fall, also known as the Weak Equivalence Principle (WEP). This is satisfied if inertial mass is equal to gravitational mass. η is a parameter used to test the maximum allowable violation of the WEP. The first tests of the WEP were done by Eötvös before 1900 and limited η to less than 5×10^{Template:Val/delimitnum/gaps11}. Modern tests have reduced that to less than 5×10^{Template:Val/delimitnum/gaps11}.
The second is Lorentz invariance. In the absence of gravitational effects the speed of light is constant. The test parameter for this is δ. The first tests of Lorentz invariance were done by Michelson and Morley before 1890 and limited δ to less than 5×10^{Template:Val/delimitnum/gaps11}. Modern tests have reduced this to less than 1×10^{Template:Val/delimitnum/gaps11}.
The third is local position invariance, which includes spatial and temporal invariance. The outcome of any local nongravitational experiment is independent of where and when it is performed. Spatial local position invariance is tested using gravitational redshift measurements. The test parameter for this is α. Upper limits on this found by Pound and Rebka in 1960 limited α to less than 0.1. Modern tests have reduced this to less than 1×10^{Template:Val/delimitnum/gaps11}.
Schiff's conjecture states that any complete, selfconsistent theory of gravity that embodies the WEP necessarily embodies EEP. This is likely to be true if the theory has full energy conservation.
Metric theories satisfy the Einstein Equivalence Principle. Extremely few nonmetric theories satisfy this. For example, the nonmetric theory of Belinfante & Swihart (1957) is eliminated by the THεμ formalism for testing EEP. Gauge theory gravity is a notable exception, where the strong equivalence principle is essentially the minimal coupling of the gauge covariant derivative.
Parametric postNewtonian (PPN) formalism
See also Tests of general relativity, Misner et al. (1973) and Will (1981) for more information.
Work on developing a standardized rather than adhoc set of tests for evaluating alternative gravitation models began with Eddington in 1922 and resulted in a standard set of PPN numbers in Nordtvedt and Will (1972) and Will and Nordtvedt (1972). Each parameter measures a different aspect of how much a theory departs from Newtonian gravity. Because we are talking about deviation from Newtonian theory here, these only measure weakfield effects. The effects of strong gravitational fields are examined later.
These ten are called :
$\backslash gamma\backslash ;$, $\backslash beta\backslash ;$, $\backslash eta\backslash ;$, $\backslash alpha\_1\backslash ;$, $\backslash alpha\_2\backslash ;$, $\backslash alpha\_3\backslash ;$, $\backslash zeta\_1\backslash ;$, $\backslash zeta\_2\backslash ;$, $\backslash zeta\_3\backslash ;$, $\backslash zeta\_4\backslash ;$
$\backslash gamma\backslash ;$ is a measure of space curvature, being zero for Newtonian gravity and one for GR.
$\backslash beta\backslash ;$ is a measure of nonlinearity in the addition of gravitational fields, one for GR.
$\backslash eta\backslash ;$ is a check for preferred location effects.
$\backslash alpha\_1\backslash ;$, $\backslash alpha\_2\backslash ;$, $\backslash alpha\_3\backslash ;$ measure the extent and nature of "preferredframe effects". Any theory of gravity with at least one $\backslash alpha$ nonzero is called a preferredframe theory.
$\backslash zeta\_1\backslash ;$, $\backslash zeta\_2\backslash ;$, $\backslash zeta\_3\backslash ;$, $\backslash zeta\_4\backslash ;$, $\backslash alpha\_3\backslash ;$ measure the extent and nature of breakdowns in global conservation laws. A theory of gravity possesses 4 conservation laws for energymomentum and 6 for angular momentum only if all five are zero.
Strong gravity and gravitational waves
PPN is only a measure of weak field effects. Strong gravity effects can be seen in compact objects such as white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. Experimental tests such as the stability of white dwarfs, spindown rate of pulsars, orbits of binary pulsars and the existence of a black hole horizon can be used as tests of alternative to GR.
GR predicts that gravitational waves travel at the speed of light. Many alternatives to GR say that gravitational waves travel faster than light. If true, this could result in failure of causality.
Cosmological tests
Many of these have been developed recently. For those theories that aim to replace dark matter, the galaxy rotation curve, the TullyFisher relation, the faster rotation rate of dwarf galaxies, and the gravitational lensing due to galactic clusters act as constraints.
For those theories that aim to replace inflation, the size of ripples in the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation is the strictest test.
For those theories that incorporate or aim to replace dark energy, the supernova brightness results and the age of the universe can be used as tests.
Another test is the flatness of the universe. With GR, the combination of baryonic matter, dark matter and dark energy add up to make the universe exactly flat. As the accuracy of experimental tests improve, alternatives to GR that aim to replace dark matter or dark energy will have to explain why.
Results of testing theories
PPN parameters for a range of theories
(See Will (1981) and Ni (1972) for more details. Misner et al. (1973) gives a table for translating parameters from the notation of Ni to that of Will)
General Relativity is now more than 90 years old, during which one alternative theory of gravity after another has failed to agree with ever more accurate observations. One illustrative example is Parameterized postNewtonian formalism (PPN).
The following table lists PPN values for a large number of theories. If the value in a cell matches that in the column heading then the full formula is too complicated to include here.

$\backslash gamma$

$\backslash beta$ 
$\backslash xi$

$\backslash alpha\_1$ 
$\backslash alpha\_2$

$\backslash alpha\_3$ 
$\backslash zeta\_1$

$\backslash zeta\_2$ 
$\backslash zeta\_3$

$\backslash zeta\_4$

Einstein (1916) GR

1 
1 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

ScalarTensor theories

Bergmann (1968), Wagoner (1970)

$\backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{1+\backslash omega\}\{2+\backslash omega\}$

$\backslash beta$ 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

Nordtvedt (1970), Bekenstein (1977)

$\backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{1+\backslash omega\}\{2+\backslash omega\}$

$\backslash beta$ 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

BransDicke (1961)

$\backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{1+\backslash omega\}\{2+\backslash omega\}$

1 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

VectorTensor theories

$\backslash gamma$ 
$\backslash beta$ 
0 
$\backslash alpha\_1$ 
$\backslash alpha\_2$ 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

HellingsNordtvedt (1973)

$\backslash gamma$ 
$\backslash beta$ 
0 
$\backslash alpha\_1$ 
$\backslash alpha\_2$ 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

WillNordtvedt (1972)

1 
1 
0 
0 
$\backslash alpha\_2$ 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

Bimetric theories

Rosen (1975)

1 
1 
0 
0 
$c\_0/c\_11$ 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

Rastall (1979)

1 
1 
0 
0 
$\backslash alpha\_2$ 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

LightmanLee (1973)

$\backslash gamma$ 
$\backslash beta$ 
0 
$\backslash alpha\_1$ 
$\backslash alpha\_2$ 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

Stratified theories

LeeLightmanNi (1974)

$ac\_0/c\_1$ 
$\backslash beta$ 
$\backslash xi$ 
$\backslash alpha\_1$ 
$\backslash alpha\_2$ 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

Ni (1973)

$ac\_0/c\_1$ 
$bc\_0$ 
0 
$\backslash alpha\_1$ 
$\backslash alpha\_2$ 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

Scalar Field theories

Einstein (1912) {Not GR}

0 
0 

4 
0 
2 
0 
1 
0 
0†

WhitrowMorduch (1965)

0 
1 

4 
0 
0 
0 
3 
0 
0†

Rosen (1971)

$\backslash lambda$ 
$\backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{3\}\{4\}+\backslash textstyle\backslash frac\{\backslash lambda\}\{4\}$ 

$44\backslash lambda$ 
0 
4 
0 
1 
0 
0

Papetrou (1954a, 1954b)

1 
1 

8 
4 
0 
0 
2 
0 
0

Ni (1972) (stratified)

1 
1 

8 
0 
0 
0 
2 
0 
0

Yilmaz (1958, 1962)

1 
1 

8 
0 
4 
0 
2 
0 
1†

PageTupper (1968)

$\backslash gamma$ 
$\backslash beta$ 

$44\backslash gamma$ 
0 
$22\backslash gamma$ 
0 
$\backslash zeta\_2$ 
0 
$\backslash zeta\_\{\; 4\}$

Nordström (1912)

$1$ 
$\backslash textstyle\backslash frac12$ 

0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0†

Nordström (1913), EinsteinFokker (1914)

$1$ 
$\backslash textstyle\backslash frac12$ 

0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0

Ni (1972) (flat)

$1$ 
$1q$ 

0 
0 
0 
0 
$\backslash zeta\_2$ 
0 
0†

WhitrowMorduch (1960)

$1$ 
$1q$ 

0 
0 
0 
0 
q 
0 
0†

Littlewood (1953), Bergman(1956)

$1$ 
$\backslash textstyle\backslash frac12$ 

0 
0 
0 
0 
1 
0 
0†

† The theory is incomplete, and $\backslash zeta\_\{\; 4\}$ can take one of two values. The value closest to zero is listed.
All experimental tests agree with GR so far, and so PPN analysis immediately eliminates all the scalar field theories in the table.
A full list of PPN parameters is not available for Whitehead (1922), DeserLaurent (1968), BolliniGiambiagiTiomino (1970), but in these three cases $\backslash beta=\backslash xi$, which is in strong conflict with GR and experimental results. In particular, these theories predict incorrect amplitudes for the Earth's tides. (A minor modification of Whitehead's theory avoids this problem. However, the modification predicts the Nordtvedt effect, which has been experimentally constrained.)
Theories that fail other tests
The stratified theories of Ni (1973), Lee Lightman and Ni (1974) are nonstarters because they all fail to explain the perihelion advance of Mercury.
The bimetric theories of Lightman and Lee (1973), Rosen (1975), Rastall (1979) all fail some of the tests associated with strong gravitational fields.
The scalartensor theories include GR as a special case, but only agree with the PPN values of GR when they are equal to GR to within experimental error. As experimental tests get more accurate, the deviation of the scalartensor theories from GR is being squashed to zero.
The same is true of vectortensor theories, the deviation of the vectortensor theories from GR is being squashed to zero. Further, vectortensor theories are semiconservative; they have a nonzero value for $\backslash alpha\_2$ which can have a measurable effect on the Earth's tides.
Nonmetric theories, such as Belinfante and Swihart (1957a, 1957b), usually fail to agree with experimental tests of Einstein's equivalence principle.
And that leaves, as a likely valid alternative to GR, nothing except possibly Cartan (1922).
That was the situation until cosmological discoveries pushed the development of modern alternatives.
Modern theories 1980s to present
This section includes alternatives to GR published after the observations of galaxy rotation that led to the hypothesis of "dark matter".
There is no known reliable list of comparison of these theories.
Those considered here include:
Beckenstein (2004), Moffat (1995), Moffat (2002), Moffat (2005a, b).
These theories are presented with a cosmological constant or added scalar or vector potential.
Motivations
Motivations for the more recent alternatives to GR are almost all cosmological, associated with or replacing such constructs as "inflation", "dark matter" and "dark energy". The basic idea is that gravity agrees with GR at the present epoch but may have been quite different in the early universe.
There was a slow dawning realisation in the physics world that there were several problems inherent in the then big bang scenario, two of these were the horizon problem and the observation that at early times when quarks were first forming there was not enough space on the universe to contain even one quark. Inflation theory was developed to overcome these. Another alternative was constructing an alternative to GR in which the speed of light was larger in the early universe.
The discovery of unexpected rotation curves for galaxies took everyone by surprise. Could there be more mass in the universe than we are aware of, or is the theory of gravity itself wrong? The consensus now is that the missing mass is "cold dark matter", but that consensus was only reached after trying alternatives to general relativity and some physicists still believe that alternative models of gravity might hold the answer.
The discovery of the accelerated expansion of the universe by the supernova surveys led to the rapid reinstatement of Einstein's cosmological constant, and quintessence arrived as an alternative to the cosmological constant. At least one new alternative to GR attempted to explain the supernova surveys' results in a completely different way.
Another observation that sparked recent interest in alternatives to General Relativity is the Pioneer anomaly. It was quickly discovered that alternatives to GR could explain this anomaly. This is now believed to be accounted for by nonuniform thermal radiation.
Cosmological constant and quintessence
(also see Cosmological constant, Einstein–Hilbert action, Quintessence (physics))
The cosmological constant $\backslash Lambda\backslash ;$ is a very old idea, going back to Einstein in 1917. The success of the Friedmann model of the universe in which $\backslash Lambda=0\backslash ;$ led to the general acceptance that it is zero, but the use of a nonzero value came back with a vengeance when data from supernovae indicated that the expansion of the universe is accelerating
First, let's see how it influences the equations of Newtonian gravity and General Relativity.
In Newtonian gravity, the addition of the cosmological constant changes the NewtonPoisson equation from:
 $\backslash nabla^2\backslash phi=4\backslash pi\backslash rho\backslash ;$
to
 $\backslash nabla^2\backslash phi\backslash Lambda\backslash phi=4\backslash pi\backslash rho\backslash ;$
In GR, it changes the EinsteinHilbert action from
 $S=\{1\backslash over\; 16\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash int\; R\backslash sqrt\{g\}\; \backslash ,\; d^4x\; \backslash ,\; +S\_m\backslash ;$
to
 $S=\{1\backslash over\; 16\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash int\; (R2\backslash Lambda)\backslash sqrt\{g\}\backslash ,d^4x\; \backslash ,\; +S\_m\backslash ;$
which changes the field equation
 $T^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}=\{1\backslash over\; 8\backslash pi\; G\}\; \backslash left(R^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash frac\; \{1\}\{2\}\; g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\; R\; \backslash right)\backslash ;$
to
 $T^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}=\{1\backslash over\; 8\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash left(R^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash frac\; \{1\}\{2\}\; g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\; R\; +\; g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\; \backslash Lambda\; \backslash right)\backslash ;$
In alternative theories of gravity, a cosmological constant can be added to the action in exactly the same way.
The cosmological constant is not the only way to get an accelerated expansion of the universe in alternatives to GR. We've already seen how the scalar potential $\backslash lambda(\backslash phi)\backslash ;$ can be added to scalar tensor theories. This can also be done in every alternative the GR that contains a scalar field $\backslash phi\backslash ;$ by adding the term $\backslash lambda(\backslash phi)\backslash ;$ inside the Lagrangian for the gravitational part of the action, the $L\_\backslash phi\backslash ;$ part of
 $S=\{1\backslash over\; 16\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash int\; d^4x\; \backslash ,\; \backslash sqrt\{g\}L\_\backslash phi+S\_m\backslash ;$
Because $\backslash lambda(\backslash phi)\backslash ;$ is an arbitrary function of the scalar field, it can be set to give an acceleration that is large in the early universe and small at the present epoch. This is known as quintessence.
A similar method can be used in alternatives to GR that use vector fields, including Rastall (1979) and vectortensor theories. A term proportional to
 $K^\backslash mu\; K^\backslash nu\; g\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$
is added to the Lagrangian for the gravitational part of the action.
Relativistic MOND
(see Modified Newtonian dynamics, Tensorvectorscalar gravity, and Bekenstein (2004) for more details).
The original theory of MOND by Milgrom was developed in 1983 as an alternative to "dark matter". Departures from Newton's law of gravitation are governed by an acceleration scale, not a distance scale. MOND successfully explains the TullyFisher observation that the luminosity of a galaxy should scale as the fourth power of the rotation speed. It also explains why the rotation discrepancy in dwarf galaxies is particularly large.
There were several problems with MOND in the beginning.
i. It did not include relativistic effects
ii. It violated the conservation of energy, momentum and angular momentum
iii. It was inconsistent in that it gives different galactic orbits for gas and for stars
iv. It did not state how to calculate gravitational lensing from galaxy clusters.
By 1984, problems ii. and iii. had been solved by introducing a Lagrangian (AQUAL). A relativistic version of this based on scalartensor theory was rejected because it allowed waves in the scalar field to propagate faster than light. The Lagrangian of the nonrelativistic form is:
 $L=\{a\_0^2\backslash over\; 8\backslash pi\; G\}f\backslash left\backslash lbrack\{\backslash nabla\backslash phi^2\backslash over\; a\_0^2\}\backslash right\backslash rbrack\backslash rho\backslash phi\backslash ;$
The relativistic version of this has:
 $L=\{a\_0^2\backslash over\; 8\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash tilde\; f(l\_0^2\; g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ,\backslash partial\_\backslash mu\backslash phi\backslash ,\; \backslash partial\_\backslash nu\backslash phi)\backslash ;$
with a nonstandard mass action. Here $f\backslash ;$ and $\backslash tilde\; f$ are arbitrary functions selected to give Newtonian and MOND behaviour in the correct limits, and $l\_0\; =\; c^2/a\_0\backslash ;$ is the MOND length scale.
By 1988, a second scalar field (PCC) fixed problems with the earlier scalartensor version but is in conflict with the perihelion precession of Mercury and gravitational lensing by galaxies and clusters.
By 1997, MOND had been successfully incorporated in a stratified relativistic theory [Sanders], but as this is a preferred frame theory it has problems of its own.
Bekenstein (2004) introduced a tensorvectorscalar model (TeVeS). This has two scalar fields $\backslash phi\backslash ;$ and $\backslash sigma\backslash ;$ and vector field $U\_\backslash alpha\backslash ;$. The action is split into parts for gravity, scalars, vector and mass.
 $S=S\_g+S\_s+S\_v+S\_m\backslash ;$
The gravity part is the same as in GR.
 $S\_s=\backslash textstyle\backslash frac12\backslash int[\backslash sigma^2\; h^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}\backslash phi\_\{,\backslash alpha\}\backslash phi\_\{,\backslash beta\}\; +\backslash textstyle\backslash frac12G\; l\_0^\{2\}\backslash sigma^4F(kG\backslash sigma^2)]\backslash sqrt\{g\}\backslash ,d^4x\backslash ;$
 $S\_v=\{K\backslash over\; 32\backslash pi\; G\}\backslash int[g^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}U\_U\_\; 2(\backslash lambda/K)(g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\; U\_\backslash mu\; U\_\backslash nu+1)]\backslash sqrt\{g\}\backslash ,d^4x\backslash ;$
 $S\_m=\backslash int\; L(\backslash tilde\; g\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\},f^\backslash alpha,f^\backslash alpha\_\{\backslash mu\},\backslash ldots)\backslash sqrt\{g\}\backslash ,d^4x\backslash ;$
where
$h^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}\backslash \; \backslash stackrel\{\backslash mathrm\{def\}\}\{=\}\backslash \; g^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}U^\backslash alpha\; U^\backslash beta\backslash ;$, $k\backslash ;$ and $K\backslash ;$ are constants, square brackets in indices $U\_\backslash ;$ represent antisymmetrization $\backslash lambda\backslash ;$ is a Lagrange multiplier (calculated elsewhere), $\backslash tilde\; g^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}=e^\{2\backslash phi\}g^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}+2U^\backslash alpha\; U^\backslash beta\backslash sinh(2\backslash phi)\backslash ;$, and $L\backslash ;$ is a Lagrangian translated from flat spacetime onto the metric $\backslash tilde\; g^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}\backslash ;$. Note that $G$ need not equal the observed gravitational constant $G\_\{Newton\}$
$F\backslash ;$ is an arbitrary function, and $F(\backslash mu)=\backslash textstyle\backslash frac34\{\backslash mu^2(\backslash mu2)^2\backslash over\; 1\backslash mu\}\backslash ;$ is given as an example with the right asymptotic behaviour; note how it becomes undefined when $\backslash mu=1\backslash ;$
The PPN parameters of this theory are calculated in,^{[10]} which shows that all its parameters are equal to GR's, except for $\backslash alpha\_1\; =\; 4\; \backslash frac\; GK\; ((2K1)\; e^\{4\backslash phi\_0\}\; \; e^\{4\backslash phi\_0\}\; +\; 8)\; \; 8$ and $\backslash alpha\_2\; =\; \backslash frac\{6\; G\}\{2\; \; K\}\; \; \backslash frac\{2\; G\; (K\; +\; 4)\; e^\{4\; \backslash phi\_0\}\}\{(2\; \; K)^2\}\; \; 1$, both expressed in geometric units where $c\; =\; G\_\{Newtonian\}\; =\; 1$; so $G^\{1\}\; =\; \backslash frac\; 2\{2K\}\; +\; \backslash frac\; k\{4\backslash pi\}$. The parameter $\backslash phi\_0$ measures the value of the scalar field $\backslash phi$ at infinity, and is given by $\backslash frac\; K\{2K\}\; =\; e^\{4\backslash phi\_0\}\; \; 1$.
Milgrom^{[11]} proposed a "bimetric MOND" or "BIMOND" theory, with action
 $S\; \; S\_M\; \; \backslash hat\{S\}\_M\; =\; \{c^4\; \backslash over\; 16\backslash pi\; G\}\; \backslash int[\backslash beta\; g^\{1/2\}\; R\; +\; \backslash alpha\; \backslash hat\{g\}^\{1/2\}\; \backslash hat\{R\}\; \; 2\; (g\; \backslash hat\{g\})^\{1/4\}\; f(\backslash kappa)\; l\_0^\{2\}\; \backslash mathcal\{M\}(l\_0^m\; \backslash Upsilon^\{(m)\})]\; d^4x$
with $S\_M\backslash ;$ and $\backslash hat\{S\}\_M$ the (noninteracting) matter actions attached to the two metrics, $\backslash Upsilon$ a tensor derived from the difference in the metrics' connections, $\backslash kappa\; =\; (g/\backslash hat\{g\})^\{\backslash frac14\}$ the ratio between the two metric traces, and $\backslash alpha,\; \backslash beta$ are free parameters. $\backslash mathcal\{M\}$ is a function which depends on some contractions of the $\backslash Upsilon$ tensors.
Assuming that $\backslash mathcal\{M\}$ depends only on the scalar contraction of $\backslash Upsilon$, Milgrom obtained as a nonrelativistic limit his bipotential version of MOND with action
 $S\; \; S\_M\; =\; \{1\; \backslash over\; 8\backslash pi\; G\}\; \backslash int[\backslash beta\; (\backslash nabla\backslash phi)^2\; +\; \backslash alpha\; (\backslash nabla\; \backslash hat\{\backslash phi\})^2\; \; a\_0^2\; \backslash mathcal\{M\}((\backslash nabla\backslash phi\; \; \backslash nabla\; \backslash hat\{\backslash phi\})^2\; /\; a\_0^2)]\; d^4x$
 $S\_M\; =\; \backslash rho\; (v^2/2\; \; \backslash phi)$
Here $\backslash mathcal\{M\}(z)$ should scale as $z^\{1/4\}$ in the deepMOND limit and as $z$ in the Newtonian limit.
Moffat's theories
J. W. Moffat (1995) developed a nonsymmetric gravitation theory (NGT). This is not a metric theory. It was first claimed that it does not contain a black hole horizon, but Burko and Ori (1995) have found that NGT can contain black holes. Later, Moffat claimed that it has also been applied to explain rotation curves of galaxies without invoking "dark matter". Damour, Deser & MaCarthy (1993) have criticised NGT, saying that it has unacceptable asymptotic behaviour.
The mathematics is not difficult but is intertwined so the following is only a brief sketch. Starting with a nonsymmetric tensor $g\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$, the Lagrangian density is split into
 $L=L\_R+L\_M\backslash ;$
where $L\_M\backslash ;$ is the same as for matter in GR.
 $L\_R\; =\; \backslash sqrt\{g\}\; \backslash left[R(W)2\backslash lambda\backslash frac14\backslash mu^2g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}g\_\backslash right]\; \; \backslash frac16g^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}W\_\backslash mu\; W\_\backslash nu\backslash ;$
where $R(W)\backslash ;$ is a curvature term analogous to but not equal to the Ricci curvature in GR, $\backslash lambda\backslash ;$ and $\backslash mu^2\backslash ;$ are cosmological constants, $g\_\backslash ;$ is the antisymmetric part of $g\_\{\backslash nu\backslash mu\}\backslash ;$.
$W\_\backslash mu\backslash ;$ is a connection, and is a bit difficult to explain because it's defined recursively. However, $W\_\backslash mu\backslash approx2g^\{,\backslash nu\}\_\backslash ;$
Moffat's (2002) theory is a scalartensor bimetric gravity theory (BGT) and is one of the many theories of gravity in which the speed of light is faster in the early universe. These theories were motivated partly be the desire to avoid the "horizon problem" without invoking inflation. It has a variable $G\backslash ;$. The theory also attempts to explain the dimming of supernovae from a perspective other than the acceleration of the universe and so runs the risk of predicting an age for the universe that is too small.
Moffat's (2005a) metricskewtensorgravity (MSTG) theory is able to predict rotation curves for galaxies without either dark matter or MOND, and claims that it can also explain gravitational lensing of galaxy clusters without dark matter. It has variable $G\backslash ;$, increasing to a final constant value about a million years after the big bang.
The theory seems to contain an asymmetric tensor $A\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$ field and a source current $J\_\backslash mu\backslash ;$ vector. The action is split into:
 $S=S\_G+S\_F+S\_\{FM\}+S\_M\backslash ;$
Both the gravity and mass terms match those of GR with cosmological constant. The skew field action and the skew field matter coupling are:
 $S\_F=\backslash int\; d^4x\backslash ,\backslash sqrt\{g\}\; \backslash left(\; \backslash frac1\{12\}F\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\backslash rho\}F^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\backslash rho\}\; \; \backslash frac14\backslash mu^2\; A\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}A^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\; \backslash right)\backslash ;$
 $S\_\{FM\}=\backslash int\; d^4x\backslash ,\backslash epsilon^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\backslash mu\backslash nu\}A\_\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\}\backslash partial\_\backslash mu\; J\_\backslash nu\backslash ;$
where
 $F\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\backslash rho\}=\backslash partial\_\backslash mu\; A\_\{\backslash nu\backslash rho\}+\backslash partial\_\backslash rho\; A\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}$
and $\backslash epsilon^\{\backslash alpha\backslash beta\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\backslash ;$ is the LeviCivita symbol. The skew field coupling is a Pauli coupling and is gauge invariant for any source current. The source current looks like a matter fermion field associated with baryon and lepton number.
Moffat (2005b) Scalartensorvector gravity (SVTG) theory.
The theory contains a tensor, vector and three scalar fields. But the equations are quite straightforward. The action is split into:
$S=S\_G+S\_K+S\_S+S\_M\backslash ;$ with terms for gravity, vector field $K\_\backslash mu$, scalar fields $G\backslash ;$, $\backslash omega\backslash ;$ & $\backslash mu\backslash ;$, and mass. $S\_G\backslash ;$ is the standard gravity term with the exception that $G\backslash ;$ is moved inside the integral.
 $S\_K=\backslash int\; d^4x\backslash ,\backslash sqrt\{g\}\backslash omega\; \backslash left(\; \backslash frac14\; B\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\; B^\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}\; +\; V(K)\; \backslash right)\backslash ;$
where $B\_\{\backslash mu\backslash nu\}=\backslash partial\_\backslash mu\; K\_\backslash nu\backslash partial\_\backslash nu\; K\_\backslash mu\backslash ;$
 $$
\begin{align}
S_S & = \int d^4x\,\sqrt{g} {1\over G^3} \left( \frac12g^{\mu\nu}\,\nabla_\mu G\,\nabla_\nu G V(G) \right) \\
& {} \qquad\qquad + {1\over G} \left(\frac12g^{\mu\nu}\,\nabla_\mu\omega\,\nabla_\nu\omega V(\omega) \right) +{1\over\mu^2G} \left( \frac12g^{\mu\nu}\,\nabla_\mu\mu\,\nabla_\nu\mu  V(\mu) \right)
\end{align}
The potential function for the vector field is chosen to be:
 $V(K)\; =\; \backslash frac12\backslash mu^2\backslash phi^\backslash mu\backslash phi\_\backslash mu\; \; \backslash frac14g(\backslash phi^\backslash mu\; \backslash phi\_\backslash mu)^2\backslash ;$
where $g\backslash ;$ is a coupling constant. The functions assumed for the scalar potentials are not stated.
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 Standard  

 Alternatives to general relativity  Paradigms  

 Early modifications  

 Quantisation attempts  

 Unification attempts  

 Unification and quantisation attempts  

 Generalisations/Extensions of GR 
 Liouville gravity
 Lovelock theory
 2+1D topological gravity
 Gauss–Bonnet gravity
 Jackiw–Teitelboim gravity




 PreNewtonian theories and Toy models  


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